You’ve probably noticed more and more brick-and-mortar stores arming their sales associates with smartphones and tablets to assist customers. And for good reason. Modern consumers want a seamless sales experience that educates them about their purchase.
In fact, 87 percent want brands to provide a seamless experience. What’s more, 69 percent of consumers prefer sales associates to have a smart device, like a tablet or smartphone, to teach them about what they’re buying and check availability.
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Why should this matter to you and your home services business? Because your field technicians are your salespeople.
What are you arming them with in the field? Antiquated paper catalogs and tedious forms? If the answer is yes, it’s time to consider a rugged tablet.
The thought of providing your techs with such a delicate piece of equipment may be disconcerting, but with rugged tablets, fears about durability should be the furthest thing from your mind.
You’re probably also thinking about how much they cost and if they can be feasibly integrated into your business. And what you should do if you prefer the Apple iPad and iPhone and the iOs experience over the Microsoft Windows or Android operating systems? These are important considerations but ultimately, the ruggedness might be worth the trouble.
Why Do You Need a Rugged Tablet?
Rugged tablets can provide excellent connectivity while withstanding the demands of the field. Here’s why you should consider investing in rugged devices for your business.
When you hear the word “tablet,” one of the first things you probably think of is how fragile they are. In your line of work, it’s hard to justify using such delicate equipment on a regular basis.
Let’s face it, field work is messy, destructive and can be downright dangerous. Having a brand-new iPad Pro on a dingy job site is enough to give some tech lovers an anxiety attack. But the best rugged Android tablet for business isn’t necessarily the best tablet for your business. So, what's the alternative?
Rugged tablets are made to take abuse. Most of them have ingress protection, and they are resistant to extreme temperatures, dustproof, and watertight. In fact, it’s not difficult to find a model that is water-resistant enough to be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes without skipping a beat.
These machines are also created to be dropped. Most rugged tablets can fall from several feet (or more) without breaking.
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The typical enterprise tablet has an 18 percent failure rate, but ruggedized tablets have a failure rate of 4 percent. If a typical tablet is a Kia, let’s just call a rugged tablet a military-ready Humvee. And a Humvee might be exactly what you need.
We’ve already touched on consumers’ expectations with regard to technology and sales. When someone is selling them something, and this includes service techs trying to sell them a new HVAC unit or water heater, they want their salesperson to educate them on their purchase.
According to Tracey Fennell, Accounting Manager with Great Dane HVAC in Clinton Township, Mich., one of the biggest benefits of using rugged tablets is being able to show and explain to customers what they’re buying and why they need it.
When sales staff are knowledgeable, 88 percent of consumers say they’re more likely to buy. Arming them with a rugged tablet is a great way to increase their ability to showcase that knowledge and help consumers make an educated decision about an important purchase.
Tablets for business, in general, are a great way to go paperless. Customers love using digital forms that can be emailed to them instead of a pile of paper that ends up cluttering their home.
Rugged tablets start at a few hundred dollars and can cost in the thousands if you buy a top-of-the-line, military-grade model. What’s affordable and right for one company might not be for others.
The important thing is to consider what features you need and choose a rugged tablet in your budget with all or most of those features. There’s no use buying a tablet for business with every bell and whistle if you only plan to use it for filling out forms and staying in touch with your techs.
Great Dane HVAC believes their investment in rugged tablets for their techs has been well worth the cost. The way their communication has improved, both with their techs and customers, is priceless.
There are many rugged tablets on the market today. So many, in fact, it can be difficult to determine which have the features you need and want, and which simply aren’t worth the investment. Here are a few of our top picks for the best rugged tablets for field service.
Best Rugged Tablets for Field Service
Here’s a breakdown of the rugged tablets featured:
Dell Latitude 7212 Rugged Extreme
At $1,299, this rugged tablet is on the expensive side, but with the hefty price tag comes a hearty helping of RAM (16GB) to enable speedy multitasking. It also has a great deal of long-term storage space (256GB).
The Rugged Extreme is almost 3 pounds and nearly an inch thick, making it the heaviest rugged tablets featured, but it does have a larger, HD screen than most, which makes it great for presenting information to customers.
The biggest downside is the abysmal battery life, which stands at about 3 hours. Keep your charger handy.
Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1
This tablet is probably the best value at $799, a fair price for the speed of the machine (8GB RAM combined with 1.7 GHz processor). It packs a big punch in a small package and has a generous 10.1-inch HD display.
This rugged tablet stands out when it comes to presentation. It features an LED-backlit screen and anti-reflective and anti-glare coatings for top-notch display.
The FZ-G1 also includes a stylus pen for even greater functionality and presentation capabilities.
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active PRO
The Galaxy Tab Active Pro runs at lightning speed with a 2 GHz processor. It’s also the lightest, thinnest rugged tablet on the list, so it travels well with techs who are already bogged down with heavy equipment.
The Tab includes a front and rear camera as well as the sPen stylus to keep your screen clean as you’re filling in forms and showing your customers equipment options.
The durability of this rugged tablet should also be noted. Its military-grade drop rating means it can fall from 6 feet without breaking as well as enjoy a 5-foot water bath for up to 30 minutes without failure.
This rugged tablet is also backed by Samsung’s 1-year standard limited warranty.
The ZX70 is a good all-around option, but what really sets this rugged tablet apart is its industry-leading warranty. Getac backs this tablet with a three-year bumper-to-bumper warranty, the best in the business.
It also features a very durable, scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass screen that’s easily viewed in daylight due to its 580-nit display.
The bottom line
Adding rugged tablets to your fleet of equipment could transform your business. Their durability and dependability combined with customers’ inclinations toward technology and education make them a great choice for any business.
But, before you commit to a rugged tablet for your business, you’ve got to do extensive research to ensure you’re getting a product that meets the needs of your techs, your customers, and your budget. Perhaps a rugged case could be enough to do the job. Take your time and you’re sure to pick a winning rugged tablet for your business!
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